Whole Roasted Chicken

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Jacob Burton's picture
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Whole Roasted Chicken
I had a lot of fun with our grilled cheese discussion, and as I sit here writing this, I have a whole roasted chicken in the oven, about 5 minutes out from being done. I usually whole roast at least one chicken every few weeks. It's a great "Sunday Dinner" (which is usually my Monday or Tuesday), but it is also inexpensive and an ever evolving art form. There are many ways to roast a whole chicken and I want to know how you do it. I've done high temp, low temp, a mixture of the two and other obvious techniques like brining. I eventually want to do a whole roasted chicken video, but I wanted to give the "Stella Stars" an opportunity to chime in first.

It's intriguing how something as simple and rudimentary as roasting a whole chicken can be an on going quest for perfection. I think that's what cooking is all about.

So, do you....
  • Use high heat, low heat or a mix?
  • Brine? What type of brine? What salt percentage?
  • Inject with brine, butter or marinade?
  • Rub the meat under the skin with butter? Cut the skin flaps at the opening and place between the skin and breast?
  • How do you season? Salt, pepper, herbs, oil, spices?
  • To truss or not to truss?
  • Do you stuff, make an au jus or serve with a gravy?
  • What are you favorite sides for a whole roasted chicken?
  • What am I missing? What's YOUR secret?
Looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say about one of my favorite subjects!
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enilorac's picture
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My secrets are pretty ordinary, but I love a plain old roast chicken with crispy brown skin.

Remove gizzard and giblets and set aside to make gravy.

Rinse the chicken.

Rub inside and out with salt and pepper. Every now and then I'll add another seasoning, usually smoked paprika or dried Chimayo red chile. Often it's plain old salt and black pepper. Yum. It is nice to be reminded how wonderful just plain old salt and pepper are.

Tuck bits of butter under the skin of the breast.

Prepare whatever root veggies there are in the kitchen and tuck them in the roasting pan with the chicken so they drink in unhealthy amounts of chicken fat. Potatoes. There must be potatoes. Little round roast potatoes.

I don't like stuffing, so I don't stuff unless I am cooking for a stuffing-lover. I do like to look around the kitchen for something to pop inside the chicken to impart more flavor. Sometimes it's a bunch of herbs, but more often it's fruity: a peeled apple or quartered lemon.

No trussing.

Start with a preheated 450 oven, then drop down to 325 after 15 minutes.

Baste periodically, but stop in time to let the skin get impossibly crispy.

Serve with the roasted root veggies and a gravy enhanced with pan drippings.

I served roast chicken for Christmas a couple of years ago, slightly more dressed up and with a cider glaze for the roasted carrots. Guests looked a bit puzzled to be presented with ... chicken? for Christmas? but seconds were had by all, and there was a very polite fight to get extra bits of crispy skin.

The oddest roast chicken I ever made dates back to the mid 1980's when my sister and I were sharing a house and cooking together. I forget how it started, but there was a challenge involving the words "butterscotch chicken." We wound up making a roast chicken with liberal amounts of butter tucked under every available bit of skin, glazed with a nice Scotch. It was surprisingly good, but I've never made it since. Rather like a home-grown episode of Chopped.

Can't wait to read (and try) what everyone else does.
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Up to last year I didn't think I could make a bad roasted chicken, but I have since learned I can and it really revolves around the quality of the chicken.

Every couple of years I raise a batch of pastured poultry and the batch last for a couple of years. (They keep, as whole chickens, exceptionally well) It was almost impossible to not make a tasty, succulent, savory baked/roasted chicken, no matter how I changed the technique. But last year I got a batch of chicks that proved one can raise poor tasting chickens. That year Tyson was buying all of Townline's chick production and my order was delayed almost a month. The end result was that I didn't raise them in warmer temps of late summer, but the cooler temps of early fall. These birds were sickly and the mortality rate was higher than I have ever experienced. And they were the same strain I always raise, Hubbard White Mountain.

With that said, when using a whole chicken of good quality, I salt and pepper the insides, put butter and thyme under the skin, truss the birds and bake it at 325F for an hour an a half in a roasting pan with water, onions, carrots and potatoes inside.

But with the chickens of poor quality, even brining cannot save them. I think I first found Jacobs site looking for a braising technique for chicken, which helps, but they still are tougher, more bland, less tasty, than the higher quality counterparts.

Jay
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I'm pretty simple with my whole and always trussed chicken.Take out a casserole dish, roughly chop onion, carrots and potato into it. Salt and pepper my chicken and drop it on top then into a 380-400 degree oven for an hour. Set the bird and vegetables aside then add the drippings to a small amount of roux for a nice veloute sauce. Sometime I need to add chicken stock if using pieces, but I've always gotten enough chicken juice when using a whole bird.

The veg has a nice chicken flavour, the meat is moist, the skin is crisp. Utterly delicious.
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I roasted chicken and potatoes "Greek style," back in October. Just adapted it from the way my Greek friends roast lamb. I spread olive oil and lemon juice onto the chicken and drizzled it over the potatoes, sprinkled salt, pepper, fresh garlic and oregano over all of it, then placed the squeezed lemon halves and some whole garlic cloves in the cavity. YUM!
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My favorite thing to do with a roasted chicken it to slice four really thin slices of lemon and slide it between the skin and the meat on the breast. Slide a fresh sage leaf in there as well and it brings some really good flavor to the party.
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I'm reopening this topic because in my new home I have access to pasture-raised chickens (Pollo Real French Label Rouge). I've been using cage-free for years, but never had good access to pastured. The flavor of these chickens is wonderful, but the birds are definitely more muscular and less fatty creatures. The advice I hear is cook low-and-slow. I've also read that brining (which I did not use before) may help keep the bird tender.

 

Anyone have any comments on changing roast chicken techniques for pastured birds?

 

Wisconsin Limey

Heston Blumenthal has the best method for a quality roast chicken.

 

1)  Untruss.  Allows the heat into the thigh joint.

2)  Brine in a solution 60g salt per liter of water.  (2oz per quart) overnight.

3)  Cook at 200F for 90 mins until thickest part of breast reads 140F

4)  Let rest while you crank oven to hottest setting

5)  Roast 10 mins until browned.

 

QED

 

Watch his vid here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgU-WycA54I

 

 

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Kewl video Limey. Love those British terms like 'nackered'. Thx.

 

@enilorac,

 

One thing you have to consider is you are talking about a bird (French Label Rouge) that doesn't follow the 'norms' here in the US. A Cornish Cross goes from a fuzzy ping pong ball to a rotisserie roaster in 3.5 to 4 weeks. Fryers grow from 5 to 6 weeks. Roasters from 7 to 8 weeks. And if you let them grow to 10 weeks you get a 'churkey' of about 10 to 12 pounds. Growing a Cornish Cross to 10 weeks has to be done in the cool parts of the year as they are prone to heart problems and most will have heart attacks if grown that large in the heat of the summer. And even though Cornish Crosses can be 'pastured' they grow so fast that they still lay around 95% of the time and the amount of grass they eat is minimal, but better than CAFO raised.

 

A Label Rouge, per French standards must grow to butcher weight in 11.5 to 15.5 weeks for a chicken of 2.75 to 3.75 pounds. Label Rouge chickens are very active, and are also bread to have less breast meat. So they chicken is going to be a bit tougher than the Cornish Cross just because of age and activity. But it will taste more chickeny and be much healthier as food.

 

The slow roasting method that Limey mentioned will probably be better suited for a chicken that is a bit tougher. So might braising, but the chefs here can speak to that better than I can.

 

My next batch of pastured poultry will be Label Rouge, just to try it. Another name here in the US for Label Rouge are Freedom Rangers. Here is a good article about one gent who raised both in one year.

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I have tried brining, high heat, low heat, trussing, and not trussing, and the fact is that it's all good.  Now I just go with whatever strikes my fancy, and it's usually pretty simple.  Rub the bird inside and out with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Sometimes I'll throw a lemon, or garlic cloves, and some herbs into the cavity.  Convection at 325 degrees for that crispy skin then add root veg about 20 minutes into the cooking time (the root veges have been tossed with oil, salt and pepper too).   While the chicken is resting, I deglaze the pan with a little wine and water to serve as an au jous.  Side dishes tend to be some simple roast or steamed veg like broccoli, asparagus, green beans etc.  

 

Roast chicken is really one of those perfect meals.  Easy to make...  Purse friendly...Delishous.

If you had a job that took you on the road, and had a restaurant weary palate, would you order a chicken dinner with the trimmings simply as a comfort food?

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Hmm, Tender roast Chicken as a meal, as we have all seen and read many recipe's and read differant ideas, here is mine, perpare a bread stuffing made from a dsh of sage, chives and lemon grass, with some white bread crumbed up, and of course the normal salt, stuff the bird, well, on the outside, use a little lemon juice, Paprika, oil, and cajun spice, mix first well in a bowl, the rub the bird in with this mix, place in oven proof bag, tie up with string, attached to the pot handle, and submerge the bag into boiling water, cook for about an  hour like this, remove and place on oven pan with juices from the bag, and roast until golden brown, basting ever 10 or so minutes, until the bird is golden brown.
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As Nina, says, it's all good. I tend to go with 2 different methods, depending on what I feel like doing:

1) I roast similarly to the Blumenthal method that Limey mentions but at 250F without trussing, no stuffing and minus the brining. I also do my turkey similarly but obviously with a much longer cook time.

2) I'm sure I'll get laughed at for this one, but I do the redneck, beer can method too, in the oven. I use a large soup can, punch some holes in the top 1/3 of the can, fill half-way with a dark beer and sometimes I add herb(s) and/or or a half a lemon, place the bird on top of the can and roast, turning up the heat at the end for about 15 min.

***Once in blue moon I'll stuff with a chorizo/cornmeal stuffing, plug the bird with a whole lemon or lime and truss.
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Hi Everybody ~ I just wanted to chime in here...Reading about roasting chicken got me thinking about the reduced juices that stick in the pan . The fond de volaille! My preferred method of preparing roast chicken is to splatchcock the bird. Brine if you like, remove the backbone and sternum. Dry the bird Season the skin with your favorite rub and rub the skin lightly
with oil .Heat a cast iron skillet to med -high heat lay the chicken skin side down and then weigh the bird down with a couple of bricks sear this bird on the TOP of the stove ( or Grill) for about 7-8 minutes ..Peek and see how she looks! I guarantee it will become mahogany and crispy ...flip it and finish in a preheated 375 degree oven until a digital thermometer reads 160 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh. remove , let rest and you will have an amazingly beautiful crispy chicken.....Even through some par cooked potatoes under the chicken when you flip it and let them catch the juices as you finish it in the oven.... a form of boulangere potatoes! Cest' bon! Bon appetit!
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@ Chef Murrell - That's a great technique that I see in BBQ joints and Middle Eastern restaurants. I've done it a few times myself. I had this video bookmarked, which is how I learned how to butterfly, or splatchcock, a chicken, if anyone wants to see a demo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGKLtbiUflk
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@ Marco099,

Beer can chicken is no laughing matter; I absolutely love it.

Also, the splatchcook method that Chef Murrell brings up works especially good.
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I do it pretty simple. I let sit on a rack in fridge overnight to dry the skin. Take out about an hour before I roast. Remove the wishbone, truss, rub a light coat of good olive oil on the skin, sprinkle what ever seasoning I am using liberally, put in a skillet or roasting pan in a 425F oven for about an hour and a half. I also have a vertical rotisserie that I use more often than not for chicken. Comes out great every time. I prepare the chicken the same and roast same temp and time.
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Informative and interesting thread.

Roast Chicken:  I, like Nina, usually keep it very simply Mediterranean, and rub the bird with 100% Hojiblanca Evoo, and fresh herbs ...  and let the pan juices combine with beer; creates a very tender bird, melt in your mouth fall off bone.
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I'll vary, at times, but my most common is basically the same as Greek-style roasted lamb: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, marjoram (or oregano), salt and pepper, I also roast potatoes in the same pan and put all of that same stuff over the potatoes.  Finally, I put more garlic into the halves of the juiced lemon and stuff that into the chicken cavity.  Wonderful!

I've been considering roasting a chicken with a mixture of tamarind, dates and piloncillo, but I'll probably put that on some spare ribs, instead.
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For me roasting chicken is something I do about once every week or two.

Been trying a number of different methods over the years and centered on what I like the most;

Temperature depends upon the size of the bird. 

1.5-2.5lbs   400F
2.5-4lbs      375F
5 - 8lbs      325F

Many times I will stuff the bird as I bake my own bread and have an ample supply of bread for this purpose. 

I like to wash out the bird, don't use brine, fold the wings back, stuff the bird, close the "flaps" at the opening, tie the drum sticks together.  If the bird is larger than 3lbs I will tyically put a little tin foil at the rear covering the tail and drumstick ends, also a small piece overing the wings a little.  This keeps them from getting over cooked.

I melt some butter and coat the bird on the outside with it.  Being the bird is cool the melted butter gels on the outside of the bird giving a nice coating.  Salt, pepper, thyme, and sometimes a little cayenne pepper. 

Using a digital temp probe allows me to stick the bird with the probe at the beginning and leave it in the whole time.  Poking holes to check the temperature allows all the juice to leak out. 

I use a shallow pan just the size of the bird (to allow the hot oven air to circulate around the bird well) and the pan has a rack on the bottom that has the bottom of the bird only 1/2" below the top of the pan.

When I make stuffing I like to use chopped onion, celery (with leaves), green pepper, red pepper, and carrot.  I fry the veget